Deborah Bancroft

Editor & Writing Coach: Making Words Behave Since 1996

Book Editing: Services and Rates

A Note About Terminology

I’ve rewritten this page about a million times. Not because my rates have changed, but because there are so many different services I could be offering, and so many different names for them depending on the context. Here’s what’s currently on offer — if you don’t see (or don’t know) what you need, drop me a line, I’m friendly!

(Rates subject to change)

Hourly Rate                                                                          $35-50/hr

For editorial work that does not fit the categories below, I am available at an hourly rate for a minimum of 3 hours (except by special arrangement.) Rate depends on a number of factors; please contact me with details about your project and we’ll discuss.

Mechanical Editing: $3.50 per 250-word page 

(sometimes called Copy Editing, Proofreading, Light Copy Editing)

Mechanical Editing is a line-by-line review of your manuscript to correct mechanical errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and usage while preserving the meaning and voice of the original. I check for (or impose) a consistent style and format, and flag larger issues for your attention. The result is solid, clean content.

Stylistic Editing: $5.00 per 250-word page 

(sometimes called Line Editing, Heavy Copy Editing, Content Editing)

Stylistic Editing goes beyond simple mechanics to issues of wording, flow,  consistency, redundancy, transition, and other matters of style. Without doing substantial rewrites, I make changes and suggestions to eliminate confusion, improve clarity, and make sure your text maintains tone, voice, and perspective throughout. The result is clear, consistent, readable, maybe even elegant: a manuscript that hangs together from beginning to end with an overall sense of quality.

Substantive Editing: $6.00-$10.00 per 250-word page

(sometimes called… Substantive Editing. That’s really the only thing you could call it.)

Substantive Editing is a deeper, more collaborative process. It includes style and mechanics, but goes further into the fundamentals that make a good manuscript great:

  • Plot and story arc
    Clarity and logic; plot twists, jump scares, and false endings; McGuffins and red herrings.
  • Structure
    Scene length, balance of plot and sub-plot, transitions between scenes and chapters.
  • Character
    Character definition, background, and differentiation: speech patterns, behavior, and reactions.
  • Perspective
    Appropriateness and consistency; who is telling the story? What does that voice know and believe?
  • Backstory and Exposition
    Weaving in prior events and establishing character history without lengthy explanations that bog down the pace.

Addressing these aspects of the manuscript will fine tune your plot and subplot, give the reader a clear sense of who your characters are and what drives them, balance your scenes and transitions, and create the pace and tension that draw readers into your world and make them want to stay.

Services FAQ

Q: What the heck does all that mean?
A: You want a Mechanical Edit if you feel that your manuscript is well-organized, says what you want it to say, doesn’t say what you don’t want it to say, and just needs a mechanical review to make sure there aren’t any typos, spelling errors, grammatical errors, inconsistencies (such as your main character’s eyes switching from brown to blue), or usage errors (affect/effect, continuously/continually, apples/aardvarks).

You want a Stylistic Edit if you need help with execution: wording, flow, consistency of voice, general readability and sense. I also fix the mechanical errors while I’m at it. Because I’m like that.

You want a Substantive Edit if you need mechanical and stylistic editing, but you also need help with plot, character development, story arc, the fundamentals that make your book really stand out.

Q: Are you the only editor I have to hire?
I’m not taking development projects, so if you want help putting your book together you’ll need someone else. And although I am extremely (some might say irritatingly) thorough as far as errors and typos, I always recommend hiring someone else to proofread your manuscript before you publish. I also highly recommend hiring someone to do your layout and conversion, and especially a very good cover artist.

Q: If I ask for a Mechanical Edit but my manuscript is actually a gigantic mess, are you just going to fix the errors?
A: Well, first I’ll tell you that your manuscript is a gigantic mess and you really need a Stylistic or Substantive Edit. Most people appreciate my candor and are glad for the extra help. Some people insist that they just want mechanics anyway, so that’s what I do.

Q: What if I ask for a Stylistic or Substantive Edit but I really only need a Mechanical Edit, huh? What about that, smart guy?
A: I’ll tell you that, too. For real.

Q: How do I know if you’re any good at this?
A: I’ll admit, that’s kind of subjective. But I have been doing this job successfully for a long time and I have lots of testimonials from happy authors. I’m always glad to edit a sample of your work for free so you can check me out, and I have provisions in my standard contract for stopping a project if you decide I’m not the right editor for you. My motto is, “If you don’t love your editor, you need a new editor.” I will not be offended if the editor you don’t love is me.